English Lead: Amy Garroch
English at Old Sodbury
The ability to listen and respond appropriately to others is a vital life skill, key to children learning about the world and interacting effectively with others.
At Old Sodbury, we promote the use of quality talk, teaching children to clearly and confidently articulate their ideas, opinions and feelings. Children use “talk partners” to clarify and consolidate their understanding, and teachers provide real-life contexts across the curriculum that allow children to adapt their tone and style for different purposes - from presentations and performances to role-plays and debates. We believe that a strong grasp of spoken language empowers children and supports them on their journey to becoming successful, lifelong learners.
Phonics and early reading
One of the first steps in enabling children to access the joy of reading independently is to teach them the sounds associated with each letter.
We follow the 'Letters and Sounds' phonics programme and supplement this with other high-quality phonics resources. This systematic approach concentrates on multi-sensory activities that promote speaking and listening skills, phonological awareness and oral blending. By using a highly structured programme and working in close partnership with parents and carers, we are able to effectively support early reading and provide children with a firm foundation on which to build. Our aim is that all children will have a secure knowledge and understanding of phonics by the end of Year 2.
Learning to read
At Old Sodbury, we have a passion for books and they are at the heart of our teaching from Reception to Year 6.
We believe that children must develop a love of reading in order to motivate and develop their own reading fluency and comprehension skills. Children are able to access all that books have to offer through high-quality class texts and book talk, which help to develop imagination, build empathy and expand vocabulary. They can choose their own books to take home from a selection of individually levelled reading books, including books from the Jelly and Bean, Oxford Reading Tree and Collins Big Cat reading schemes. Children are carefully assessed to ensure that they are reading a book that accurately matches their decoding and comprehension ability. Reading with an adult at home is encouraged across the school as the most useful and enjoyable element of home learning. Each classroom also has a well-stocked class library with a wide range of high-quality fiction, non-fiction, poetry and picture books. The children read regularly to teachers, teaching assistants and volunteers as a class, small group or individually and they look forward to being read aloud to by their teacher during and at the end of each day.
We love books!
Each year, we hold a special Book Week to celebrate a carefully chosen book across the school. We celebrate World Book Day during this week and host a Book Fair with a fantastic selection of the latest fiction and non-fiction books for the children to look at and buy. We also hold bedtime storytelling evenings, complete with onesies and hot chocolate! There is nothing more inspiring than meeting a ‘real’ author so we try to arrange regular visits from authors, illustrators and storytellers. Most recently, we have been lucky enough to meet the author Jeremy Strong, the illustrator M P Robertson and the storyteller Martin Maudsley.
At Old Sodbury, we value writing as a fundamental communication skill that enables our children to share their creativity and their ideas.
From Reception to Year 6, we provide children with rich experiences that help them to develop as keen and competent writers. We immerse the children in a broad range of engaging texts that act as a stimulus and a model for writing. We aim to make writing purposeful and meaningful so we often link writing opportunities to our learning across the curriculum. Editing is an important skill so developing the children's ability to refine their work in order to meet the needs of the audience is a key focus. We are exceptionally proud of what the children achieve as writers and we celebrate their writing through publishing and displays.
High expectations and a love of learning lead children at Old Sodbury to take great pride in their written work.
We follow a carefully planned, coherent teaching progression that supports children to develop a fluent, legible and speedy joined (cursive) handwriting style. Handwriting should be an automatic process that supports clear communication and does not interfere with creativity. Our aim is for children to enjoy practising and developing their handwriting skills, recognising their progress with a sense of achievement. It is our expectation that all children have been taught all letter joins by the end of Year 2.
Spelling is seen as an integral element of successful writing.
We teach spelling little and often through structured phonics and the learning of common exception and statutory words, facilitated by the Learning Exchange Spelling Programme. Daily sessions focus on supporting the children to investigate spelling patterns and rules as opposed to simply learning lists of words.